An Arizona school district made students place stickers, which promote childbirth and adoption over abortion, inside their high school biology textbook.
New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Young, who lives in the district, told TPM in an interview on Thursday that she was stunned when her 14-year-old son showed her one of the stickers on his textbook.
“I read it, and just looked at him. Is this a joke?” Young told TPM.
She posted a photo of the sticker on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon.
This. THIS is a sticker my son’s public high school just forced all students to put in their science books: pic.twitter.com/MmVM1xu0Xf
— Suzanne Young (@suzanne_young) August 19, 2015
Her son, a freshman at Gilbert High School in Gilbert, Arizona, told her that if students didn’t put the abstinence-only education sticker in their textbooks, the student would have to speak with their grade-level administrator.
“They’re teaching morality on an educational textbook,” Young, a former high school teacher, said.
The sticker began: “The Gilbert Public School District supports the state of Arizona’s strong interest in promoting childbirth and adoption over elective abortion.”
This language was taken almost verbatim from an Arizona law that states that schools can only provide support (financial or instruction) to a sexual education program that presents giving birth and adoption as preferred to abortion
The sticker continued: “The District is also in support of promoting abstinence as the most effective way to eliminate the potential for unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. If you have questions concerning sexual intercourse, contraceptives, pregnancy, adoption, or abortion, we encourage you to speak with your parents.”
Young said the sticker assumes there are parents with the necessary medical education to talk to their children about these topics.
“Even if I ignore all the rest of it, it assumes these kids have supportive parents to talk to. Or their parents are even knowledgable,” Young told TPM. “Since when is withholding education a good things for teens?”
“Not all parents are going to have knowledge of different STDs and different methods of prevention,” she said. “They can talk about the morality of it but the facts should still come from schools.”
The other law referenced on the sticker states Arizona schools may provide medically accurate and age-appropriate instruction on AIDS and HIV. The instruction must also promote abstinence, cannot promote “a homosexual life-style” and cannot “portray homosexuality as a positive alternative life-style.”
The stickers are apparently a response to a debate in the district last year. The Gilbert Public Schools board wanted to edit the chapter on human reproduction to exclude abortion, according to local reports. But the board nixed this idea because of copyright concerns.
Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent Christina M. Kishimoto sent a statement to TPM on Friday:
I worked closely with the Governing Board to provide a solution to last year’s matter regarding the District’s biology books. The board and I have full confidence in our teachers and because we trust the way our teachers instruct, we agreed that the stickers on the back cover are the best course of action. We are pleased with the collaboration and completion of this matter.
Young said her family was new to the district and they “love the schools,” but she doesn’t blame the teachers for what happened.
“They were just doing what they had to,” Young said. “But I can’t believe more people weren’t there to stand up to this.”